Russia deploys new cruise missiles in violation of treaty: New York Times

Washington: Russia has secretly deployed a new type of cruise missile in violation of an arms control treaty with the US, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The deployment of a fully operation unit of the SSC-8 ground-launched intermediate-range missiles presents a major challenge to US President Donald Trump and the US-Russia relations, Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.

Quoting US government officials, the report claimed that Russia now has deployed two battalions of the prohibited cruise missile, one is still located at Russia's missile test site at Kapustin Yar in southern Russia near Volgograd, while the other was shifted in December from that site to an operational base elsewhere in the country.

The previous Obama administration charged in 2014 that Russia had tested this type of missile in violation of a 1987 treaty.

In 1987, former US President Ronald Reagan and then Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which bans intermediate-range ballistic missiles based on land.

The Obama administration tried to persuade Moscow to correct the violation while the missile was still in the test phase, but the Russians have moved ahead with the system, the report added.

Russia has so far not responded to the Times report.

Despite the US intelligence reports that Russia intervened in the US presidential election with hacking activities, Trump has vowed to improve ties with Moscow so that they could cooperate on fighting terrorism.

The report came as Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned on Monday over the controversy about his phone conversation with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak before Trump's inauguration in January.

Flynn, who discussed the US sanctions imposed on Russia in late December by the Obama administration, reportedly indicated that the Trump administration would change its policies toward Moscow.